Meet the Discovery RE Team

MA, B.Ed (Hons), Adv. Dip. Couns.

Jan Lever: Director

A 15-year teaching career (including leading RE in primary and secondary schools and teaching A-Level), took Jan into 11 years’ advisory work as an RE and PSHE Adviser for 3 local authorities and 2 further years as Senior School Improvement Adviser.

She has led numerous curriculum and whole-school improvement projects, 100s of training sessions for teachers, as well as acting as professional adviser to 4 SACREs (Standing Advisory Councils on RE) and liaising and working with members of faith and belief communities.

Jan’s career has seen her closely involved in the review and writing of at least 5 agreed syllabi for RE (most recently the pan-Berkshire and Poole/Bournemouth syllabi) and the production of resource materials to support teachers in implementing these.

Jan understands the complexities and sensitivities of teaching RE and has always been a great advocate for those teaching it.

BA(Hons) Social Ethics & Religious Studies, PGCE, AST (RE)

David Rees: Senior Consultant

David has been an RE teacher for 25 years. In that time he has been an Advanced Skills RE teacher, a member of SACRE and an adviser to local authorities.  He has been a successful RE Head of Department and achieved excellent GCSE results and has been graded outstanding in 2 separate OFSTED inspections. He is also a member of Poole SACRE.

David has been involved in reviewing and amending the locally agreed RE syllabus for Bournemouth and Poole and has led numerous workshops for Key Stages 1-4 as well as planning Syllabus launch conferences.  He has been involved in writing schemes of work, developing introductory units and leading training on world religions and led training for aspiring teachers as well as non-specialists and RE specialists alike, focusing on teaching creative and challenging RE.

David believes RE is a subject that helps to develop key skills and attitudes like open-mindedness, sensitivity and reflection.  These skills transfer to all aspects of life and help to encourage a desire to challenge prejudices, to make a difference in the world and to care and show respect for all.

MA, P.G.C.E (Early Years), BA(Hons)

Alison Harris: Senior Consultant

Alison left a successful career in motor industry management working with Lex PLC and Ford Motor Company, to follow her dream and qualified with a P.G.C.E. as a Primary teacher in 2000. In her first post-NQT year, she began leading RE in her primary school and achieved outstanding for the both the RE teaching and learning, and her leadership of the subject, in three successive Statutory Inspections of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS).

In 2014 she also achieved the National Professional Qualification for Senior Leadership which entailed embedding new and independent learning strategies across the school, identifying core subject assessment issues and supporting staff to raise achievement.

Alison is a member of Bournemouth SACRE. Through her involvement with initial teacher training she completed an MA in Coaching and Mentoring with a dissertation on embedding spirituality into the Primary Curriculum.

BA(Hons) Religious Studies, PGCE, PSHE

Julia Watson: Associate Consultant

Julia began her career as an RE teacher in a large secondary school, where she taught A level and introduced experiential RE and guided meditation into the curriculum.  As Head of Year 7, Julia became interested in emotional health and positive behaviour management.  To further this interest, she worked in a unit for boys permanently excluded from mainstream education.  As PSHE Coordinator she introduced health promotion and Circle Time, whilst embedding a Sex and Relationships Education programme.

Following this, Julia moved to freelance work, working with the Oxfordshire Behaviour Support Team and running Self Esteem workshops for the Youth Offending Team.  She then returned to the classroom  as Head of KS2 and Year 4 teacher.  After a break to have her daughter, she became RE Co-ordinator at a school in Cowley, Oxford.

Julia joined the Discovery RE Team after using the scheme in school.  She says it has had an ‘unbelievable effect on the teaching of RE, especially for nonspecialists.  It has raised standards enormously and visitors to our school often comment on how engaged the children are.  They really love RE!’

Richard Palmer

MA Ed, PGCE,
PGC Academic Practice,
BSc(Hons)

Richard Palmer: Associate Consultant

Richard has worked in primary education for over 20 years first as a teacher and then later as a subject advisor for Wiltshire Council. Richard has substantial experience of leading RE in school and understands the unique place it has in the curriculum. He has always been keen to provide support to less experienced colleagues to develop their confidence with the subject and this led him towards Initial Teacher Education and a subject advisory role. He has worked within the University of Cumbria’s senior lecturing team supporting all aspects of SMSC teaching within undergraduate and postgraduate teacher training courses. In 2017 Richard began work as an independent consultant in the North of England.

Richard is a strong advocate of the enquiry approach in RE which enables children to explore spirituality from their own unique starting points. Richard finds that once familiar with these concepts, teachers at whatever level are able to apply the skills to many other areas of the curriculum. Importantly they also become passionate and excited, rather than fearful, about teaching RE.

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MA World Religions & Philosophy,
Certificate in Education

Brian Crisell: Associate Consultant

After leaving St Luke’s College in Exeter Brian’s first teaching post was at a boys’ Grammar School in Lancashire teaching PE, Games and Science. He then moved on to a special school in Hampshire to teach some fairly challenging boys all subjects for a year.

Brian was then appointed as a Housemaster at a co-ed independent school, which catered for dyslexic children also in Hampshire. Here he met his wife and his three children were born; we stayed for fourteen years. We then moved to Bruton in Somerset, again in a pastoral role and also teaching Religion & Philosophy, this was a co-educational comprehensive school where we stayed for eight years.

Brian’s dissertation for his MA was based in Spiritual Development in the secondary School curriculum and he was invited to become a member of the National Forum for Values. It was at this time he completed a Farmington Fellowship during which he set up a European Project based in human values education with six other schools.

For the past eighteen years Brian has been variously, Head of Religion & Philosophy, Head of PSHE, i/c Collective Worship, Assistant Head Teacher, mentoring NQTs, leading on international projects and Senior Tutor at Poole Grammar School in Dorset. Brian was a member of Somerset SACRE for 8 years and also a member of Poole SACRE for a further 8 years.

BSc, PGCE

Katie Gumbrell: Associate Consultant

Initially terrified of teaching RE, Katie quickly realised that high-quality RE teaching can have a profound effect on children and their attitudes to those with different world-views from their own.  She feels that RE has a massively significant role to play in helping children to understand the world around them, from their local communities to global issues affecting us all.

Discovery RE was invaluable to Katie as she developed an RE curriculum in a challenging school, as it allowed her colleagues to get on with the job of teaching, rather than worry about planning and resourcing lessons. RE progressed from being non-existent in pockets of the school to become a subject that children across the phases enjoyed and talked about with enthusiasm.

Katie started working with the Discovery RE team because she wants to share her enthusiasm and empathy with those struggling to get started with RE.

Elaine Arnold: Business & Marketing Manager

Elaine worked at Barclays Bank PLC for 25 years, 10 of those managing Community Investment Programmes for the South West region. She gained invaluable experience in partnership working, an understanding of the voluntary sector and how mutually beneficial programmes can be instrumental in achieving objectives.  After leaving Barclays in 2007, Elaine worked with Arts organisations across the South West developing partnerships with Corporates, Local Authorities and charities.

In 2010 Elaine joined The National Trust as Business Development Manager for Dorset, working to develop a strategic approach to growing visitor and membership business and setting up a programme of Corporate Events.

Elaine has since joined the Jan Lever Group and is delighted to bring her expertise in business development and marketing to the world of education.

BSc, PGCE

Katie Gumbrell: Associate Consultant

Katie embarked on her PGCE after a short career in IT.  She has taught across the primary phase, in a number of schools in Reading.
Initially terrified of teaching RE, Katie quickly realised that high-quality RE teaching can have a profound effect on children and their attitudes to those with different worldviews from their own. She feels that RE has a massively significant role to play in helping children to understand the world around them, from their local communities to global issues affecting us all.
Discovery RE was invaluable to Katie as she developed an RE curriculum in a challenging school, as it allowed her colleagues to get on with the job of teaching, rather than worry about planning and resourcing lessons. RE progressed from being non-existent in pockets of the school to become a subject that children across the phases enjoyed and talked about with enthusiasm.
Katie started working with the Discovery RE team because she wants to share her enthusiasm and empathy with those struggling to get started with RE.